You know that feeling when you have been talking with someone for quite some time and already you’ve mapped out your entire life together, and then now finally, you guys are going on a date for the first time? That marriage of inexplicable excitement and utter sense of dread because what if the person doesn’t think you’re cute in person? That’s the kind of feeling that I had when I found out we would be entering two horror mazes at the Universal Studios Japan. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. Today I will walk you through some of the best scary attractions that they have. Are you ready to step into a nightmare?
The Halloween Horror Nights have three sections: Horror Maze, The Curse Attraction, and Horror Area. These are also ranked based on horror levels, 1 being the least scary and 10 as the most horrifying.
Slammed cabinets, ghostly apparitions, flickering lights, demonic laughter; if you are into these scenes, check out the Horror Maze of USJ. The horror maze or horror house is that Halloween gimmick that aims to replicate that creepy feeling one gets when entering a haunted house. (Note: Cameras are not allowed inside the horror maze.)
I have a vague recollection of watching The Exorcist, including sleeping halfway through it. For a horror flick, it had too many dialogues and dragging scenes, which would be my excuse for snoozing. But this movie is a cult classic and I won’t deny how creepy Linda Blair looked when her character named, Regan, was being possessed by a demon.
You can enter the horror house in a group. The only thing that kept our group together is a single rope that we had to hold on to during the entire walk. The house has a series of narrow hallways that open to different rooms. At least 80% of the house is covered in darkness. If you are too scared I suggest you take the middle spot, sandwich yourself in between your friends. The bravest of you can take the head part of the rope. In my case, the surprise factor was mitigated by the fact that I was almost at the tail of the rope. Whenever a door suddenly opens to reveal a Regan-looking character or props, the people at the front are the first ones to deal with the blow, then I’d found myself looking over wondering what got them so scared haha…
My favorite part was the recreation of the infamous spider-walk scene (refer to the photo above). Not sure how they did it, but it was mind-blowing. My least favorite part is when an actor dressed as Regan followed us down the hall. It was creepy to look back and see that she was still in pursuit.
The Exorcist is Level 4 in the horror meter.
Tatari: Curse of the Living Doll
I thought it was also patterned from a movie, but Tatari, the Japanese horror house was specially made for USJ’s Halloween this year. In Japan, there is a festival called, Hinamatsuri, also known as Doll’s Day or Girls’ Day. There is a superstition belief in Japan that pertains to dolls having souls and they have the power to influence the lives of people. So the Japanese do not just throw away their dolls, they leave them in shrines during the festival. One of the shrines that take these dolls is the Awashima jinja in Wakama. I mention this because the dolls used in the Tatari horror maze were loaned by Awashima.
I thought it was dark at The Exorcist until we entered Tatari. Again, we held onto a rope as we walked through the house. It was so dark I half-feared someone would just grab me from the darkness, if that happened I’m not sure what I would have done (though kicking the source of horror came to mind). The dolls were indeed creepy and if you have an imagination as active as mine, you would definitely feel like they were watching you.
There was a scene where a crazed woman approached us, speaking in fast Nihongo. If it weren’t for our guide who translated to us, this part wouldn’t make sense at all. Apparently, the woman was giving us a warning of the horror that lies ahead. Now that I mentioned it, the attractions at USJ are all in Japanese, notwithstanding the fact they have foreign visitors.
My favorite part was entering a room where we saw a shadow of a samurai-wielding figure through the room divider (Shōji). The anticipation on what this shadow would do gave us thrill like no other. It was just like on movies where the character hopelessly awaits his fate in complete terror.
The Tatari tour is a lot shorter than The Exorcist, nevertheless, the creepy factor was more intense than the latter.
Tatari is level 5 in the horror meter.
Other Horror Mazes
If it were up to me, I would have entered all of the horror mazes, but we didn’t have all the time in the world so we could only fit two in our itinerary. The other horror mazes to choose from are Trauma 2: The Experimental Hospital Ward of Horror (Horror Level 10); A Nightmare on Elm Street the Maze 2 (Horror Level 4); and Chucky’s Horror Factory 3 (Horror Level 4).
The Curse Attraction
The Curse Attraction was not included in our itinerary so I have little idea on what you could expect from this. There are 2 attractions here, Sadako (Horror Level 1) and Gakkō no Kaidan (Horror Level 2), both were inspired by Japanese horror films. In the Terminator 2 3D attraction, for example, the eerie Sadako video as shown in the movie, The Ring, suddenly comes on the screen.
The Horror Area is an interactive horror experience where you are chased by ghosts and zombies.
The J-Horror area can be found after a short walk under the torii gates. It opens to a clearing, barely lit and eerie. Terror is brought upon by the Japanese ghosts garbed in white masks and traditional clothing, who either remain on their designated spots and jump to the passersby or walk around aimlessly.
The Walking Dead, Resident Evil, World War Z, Zombieland, name it, I’ve seen it. Given this weird fascination to the undead, it follows that I’d enjoy seeing the zombies prowling on the street, snarling and chasing people, sometimes stopping to do a dance intermission to the tune of Thriller. There are chainsaw-wielding zombies, giant zombie, zombies with dolls, zombies eating the insides of his victim, among others. The zombies were so into characters, people had fun screaming and running away from them.
It had been a long day, my feet were killing me, and my energy was at the all-time low when it was time for us to go home. I walked listlessly, my eyes set on the destination, face wearing zero expression. Maybe the zombies noticed my exhaustion because for some reason they didn’t bother me even when I walked past them.
All the excitements of the day have taken a toll, but it’s a good thing because USJ delivered one of the best Halloween spectacles I have ever experienced in my life. You too have a chance to experience this. USJ’s Halloween extravaganza runs until November 6.
USJ Fast Facts
Universal Studios Japan or USJ as known by the locals, was established in 2001. It occupies over 108 acres of area in Sakurajima, Konohana Ward in the Osaka Prefecture of Japan. Its many attractions and a monthly visitor of over 600,000 makes it impossible to see it all in a day.
Regular ticket goes for USD 71 (PHP 3422.17). But if you want a skip-the-line access, get the Express Pass; rate starts at USD 63 (PHP 3036.57).
USJ’s Halloween special started on September 9 and ends on November 6, 2016. Experience this fun Halloween celebration by booking a flight to Osaka via Cebu Pacific, the largest airline in the Philippines. Cebu Pacific flies between Manila and Osaka five times weekly, with lowest year-round fares starting from PHP6,399. Cebu Pacific also flies from Manila to Tokyo (Narita), Nagoya and Fukuoka, as well as from Cebu to Tokyo (Narita). Book its trademark lowest fares now through CEBsakaflights or (+632)7020888, or follow its Facebook or Twitter pages for the latest seat sales.
Disclaimer: This Osaka fam trip was courtesy of Cebu Pacific. Some of the photos were provided by USJ. Review and opinions are my own.